Long ago, in a holy land, the Son of God lifted His eyes and asked a dead man to walk out of his rank tomb. The dead man obliged (Jn. 11).
Many believed in Him that day.
Others ratted Him out.
His days seemed to shorten after that.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (Jn. 12:24-26)
In John 12:21, Greeks had said to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Years later it would become popular to inscribe this request on pulpits. Fitting indeed.
The Lord Jesus replied to the request to see Him by talking about the fruit His death and resurrection would reap. Also, fitting for pulpits. His death and resurrection would trigger an everlasting harvest beginning with Jesus and culminating in life for His chosen, onward and onward.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).
The Lord Jesus has a way with words.
For the Christian death is not so much about death as it is about life, and life is not so much about life as it is about death.
D.A. Carson writes,
Thus, if the image of the seed dying to bring forth many seeds is peculiarly applicable to the death of Jesus Christ, in a slightly different way it is properly applicable to Jesus’ followers. The thought rapidly moves from Jesus’ uniquely fruitful death (the death of one seed producing many seeds) to the mandated death of Jesus’ followers as the necessary condition of their own life. It could not be otherwise. To love one’s life in any absolute sense is to disavow God’s right of sovereignty, and therefore a brazen elevation of self to the level of idol. Those who love their own life in that way lose it, that is, they cause their own perdition. How Long, O Lord? (171-172)
My Resplendent Bride has battled the cancer since 2012.
Suffering is a queer thing: it simultaneously callouses one’s humor while removing scales from one’s eyes.
We’ve been inaugurated into the fellowship of the suffering. We see our once invisible companions everywhere we turn our eyes. How did we not see them before? Prosperity is a haze.
A dear lady once asked me, as we sat around a crowded lunch table, what the cancer had taught me.
“Don’t get cancer,” I replied.
Well, I thought it amusing at any rate.
My Resplendent Bride and I were just talking about how our casual talk of death could potentially make people uncomfortable. We’ve grown accustomed to going to the hospital three or four times a week. We’ve long forgotten the obvious truth that depending upon a stranger’s blood in a little baggy in order to live is… serious.
People die from this thing, this very thing right here, this thing that we are coexisting with against our wills. We hate it, yet it remains the obstinate unwelcome guest that won’t take the hint to leave.
We are not nonchalant people.
We are informed people.
We are everlasting people.
We are Christ’s fruit.
The Church is an eternal forest, and we all trace our lineage back to one seed.
But if a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies…
There is no me without her. This is a lie. This is a truth.
When my Resplendent Bride and I were joined in the covenant of marriage we ceased being two and became one. We are not that which we used to be.
If we were parted I would not be as I was.
Neither would I spend the rest of my days in my wingback chair like a wet cat.
We believe many years of this sojourn still lay before us. We dare to dream of the future. We are dreamers.
But we are Christians first.
Our culture is too jaded to talk about Heaven without snark; too myopic to talk about anything eternal, and too biopic to talk about resurrection in general because there is no resurrection without Jesus.
There is nothing whimsical about Resurrection.
Some have left fingernail marks on the word because they’ve clung tight to it all these years.
The Christian’s hope is that our Resurrection from the dead might be tied directly the crucified carpenter King’s resurrection.
Long ago, in a holy place, the Son of God called the dead to follow Him. Christ the Lord was crucified for our sins and buried. Yet He lives. Three days after His brutal execution He walked out of a borrowed grave. He left messengers in dazzling apparel who asked this question: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5).
Evan Welcher is senior pastor of First Christian Church in Glenwood, Iowa. Husband of the lovely Danielle. Evan graduated with a B.S. in Bible from Emmaus Bible College in 2005. Evan’s goal in ministry is to stir up love for Jesus Christ by the giving of great care and fidelity to the teaching of the scriptures. He blogs at EvanWelcher.com.